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Upstate steals political spotlight

Not often in this urban state (think New York City and its suburbs) does Upstate get a lot of attention, but this has changed in the past few weeks.

The headlines recently have been that a state judge in Bath (Steuben County) is over-seeing the redrawing of Congressional and State Senate legislative district lines. Big-wigs from New York have been traveling to a small, “Podunk” town in Upstate New York to argue their case on how such lines should be drawn even in places like New York City. This has never happened in my memory.

We can “thank” Republicans for this since they brought the lawsuit challenging the redistricting done in Albany as being especially egregious for them. I say “thanks” in italics, because the only reason they brought the suit is that they no longer control the New York State Senate where, for years, they did their own gerrymandering to better their chances of retaining control of that house of the State Legislature.

To their credit though, the lines drawn by Democrats in the State Legislature this year went “over-the-top” when it came to reducing the chances for Republican success by clustering their incumbents in a few districts and creating more Democratic-friendly seats throughout the State. As a result, we had been thrown into a Congressional District that ran from the shores of Lake Erie to the suburbs of Utica in the Mohawk River valley.

That also would have saddled us with an incumbent Republican Congresswoman now representing that area of the state who has been a very vocal supporter of our previous President and of his unfounded lies about a “stolen” election. Now, at least, we may have a chance to see if the new Master appointed by the Court in Bath can give us a district more resembling our old Southern Tier Congressional District or at least one which is a little closer to home here in Western New York.

Our own Congressional District situation was muddled even more this week when Tom Reed resigned his seat to take a position with a lobbying firm in Washington.

Now a special election must be called in the current District, though we still don’t know what the new Congressional District will look like for next year — not an easy scenario for someone wanting to run for Congress.

There has also been another big development for Upstate which has not received as much publicity, and that is the fact that the Democrats this year are running candidates for both Governor and Lieutenant Governor who are from Upstate. Kathy Hochul is from the Buffalo area and Antonio Delgado is a native of Schenectady. If both are successful in the primary, it could be the first time in the history of New York that the Democratic Party has fielded candidates for both of these offices from Upstate. If you are an Upstate Democrat, you should be happy right now.

The legal fracas going on in the court in Steuben County has, of course, “upset the apple cart” when it comes to the political calendar. Right now, along with the upcoming Special Election for Congress in the Southern Tier, it looks like there will be two primary elections this year — one in June and one in August.

Nevertheless, the confusion and delays may well benefit Upstate New York if we can get better Congressional District lines and, at the same time, nominate and then elect a couple of Upstate Democrats as Governor and Lieutenant Governor in November. The endorsed Republican candidate for Governor comes from Long Island and his running mate is from New York City.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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